It’s already been somewhat of a letdown season in Philly according to all the preseason hype from free-agency acquisitions, but now things have taken an even worse turn. Reports have surfaced that 76ers All-Star point guard Ben Simmons will miss at least two weeks after he suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back, according to The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has also added, “There’s no timeline for a Simmons return, but an evaluation in two weeks is more of an initial benchmark date than an expectation of a quick return to the lineup.” Just a few months ago, many respected NBA names had the Sixers competing for the 1st or 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference this year. While they currently sit in the 5th spot, does Simmons’ injury completely take them out of the conversation for first-round home-court advantage?
ESPN story on Sixers star Ben Simmons, whose back injury will sideline him for an undetermined period of time. https://t.co/Lk1fNruGof
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 24, 2020
Simmons, a two-time All-Star, has been incredibly consistent all year for the Sixers, who are at the top of the league with a polarizing 27-2 home record (Milwaukee 26-3 are the next closest). What’s concerning is their abysmal 9-20 record on the road. To put those numbers into context, the Sixers have a worse road record than most of the bottom-feeders in the east (Bulls, Wizards, Pistons, Hawks). It’s hard to imagine that this Philly team can suddenly get better on the road without their star player. To put things in perspective, Simmons is currently averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds and leads the league in steals with 2.1. That is quite the stat line for guys like Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford to make up both offensively and defensively.
Over the next two weeks, Philly will be blessed with a relatively easy schedule, as they get the Pistons twice and the Cavs, Knicks, and Warriors once. They do have tough challenges in back-to-back away games in LA on March 1st / 3rd, but those will most likely be the worst part of their schedule for the rest of the regular season.